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This was the Filipino movie I have been waiting for, for a long time.

Most of the Filipino movies that I've seen are cheap imitations of
Hollywood movies with forgettable characters and forgettable plots.
But I won't be forgetting "Jose Rizal" anytime soon.

With impeccable production values and a truly great performance by the

lead actor, Cesar Montano, "Jose Rizal" is the equal of anything that
Hollywood can produce (and better than most of the crap that Hollywood
routinely puts out on the street).

The movie tells the life story of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the
Philippines. It covers his life from his childhood to his execution
at the hands of the Spanish forces occupying the Philippines in the
late 19th century. We are also thrown into the world of Rizal's
novels (filmed in black and white), so we get a glimpse of how he
viewed Filipino society under the Spanish heal.

One note, this movie is not for the faint of heart. There are graphic
depictions of violence and even torture. The opening few scenes
depict some episodes from Rizal's novels. In one a Catholic priest
rapes a Filipina. I guess I now know where the Mestizo (i.e., mixed
blood) class came from in the Philippines. In the other scene a
Catholic priest beats a child for alleged stealing. Strong stuff, and
it made me wonder how the Catholic Church could possibly retain any
power in the country, if this is what the national hero thought about

The movie introduces us to the life of subjugation of the Filipino

people under the rule of the Spanish friars. From the execution of
three Filipino priests in 1872 for alleged subversion to the harsh and
unequal treatment of Filipino students in the schools, this film is a
stinging indictment of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. We
see scenes both from Rizal's actual life but also from his imagination
(via his novels).

As a young man, Jose is sent to study in Spain. This is a plan

hatched by his brother Paciano. Jose will write and do everything in
his power to bring to the attention of the world the abuses of Spanish
power in the Philippines, while Paciano will protect the Rizal family
at home and keep up the struggle against Spanish rule. Jose excels in
his studies as a medical student at Madrid University and eventually
earns a degree as an ophthalmic surgeon. Meantime, he becomes
involved with a group of radical Filipino students who also seek to
end the Spanish abuses in their country. He eventually has a falling
out with the student group as he realizes that the real struggle is
taking place back home. He decides to return to the Philippines.

He is arrested by the Spanish authorities upon his return to the

Philippines in 1892. He is sent to Dapitan in Mindanao where the
Spanish authorities can keep a watchful eye on him. It is there that
he meets the love of his life, Josephine Bracken, although the movie
does not devote much attention to this love affair. When a rebellion
breaks out in 1896 the Spanish governor orders that Rizal be moved to
the prison in Manila.

It is here that Rizal is introduced to Luis Taviel (played by Jaime

Fabregas) who has been appointed to defend him at his trial. Taviel
is a Spanish officer who at first mistrusts Rizal and views him as a
dangerous revolutionary. Most of the movie takes place in Rizal's
prison cell and involves Taviel confronting him about his life. There
are frequent flashbacks but some of them are flashbacks to his novels,
so it is sometimes hard to keep the order clear. Eventually Taviel
learns to respect Rizal and he decides to do his best job in defending

But it is to no avail. The evil head of the Franciscan order in

Manila arranges for a new governor to take over control of the
Philippines. The new governor promptly orders a show trial where the
outcome has already been decided. Rizal must die. Despite his best
efforts, Taviel cannot save Rizal from his fate. The verdict is
reached and the execution date is set for December 30, 1896. Taviel
admits to Rizal that he is ashamed to be a Spaniard.

In what is the most bizarre scene of the movie, on the night before
his execution, Rizal is confronted by his own character Simoun from
his novel. Simoun urges Rizal to rewrite him so that his mission can
be for a higher purpose. And so in his final work, Rizal pens "Mi
Ultimo Adios" knowing full well that his death will light the torch of
the Filipino Revolution.

The final few scenes show Rizal being led out to the execution
ground. He requests to face the firing squad but he is denied. The
Spanish want to shoot him in the back as a traitor. But as he is shot
full of bullets he manages to turn as he falls so that he lands facing
the sky. I must tell you that my wife was crying like a baby during
this scene and she's seen the movie twice. I must also admit that I
had some moisture in my eyes too. I was also muttering to myself
"Spanish Bastards! Spanish Bastards!". Strong Stuff.
Rizal Movie Reaction Paper

Submitted By: Kimpee M. Enriquez BSC-IS-4B

Submitted To: Prof. Jonathan UY Rizal’s Life, Works and Writings

February 17, 2010